Press Release

For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:

Jenny Mottershead


Lauren Riley


Ocular Melanoma Foundation and American Association for Cancer Research Announce Inaugural Fellowship Award 

WASHINGTON, DC - The  Ocular Melanoma Foundation (OMF) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) are pleased to announce that the first annual Junior Investigator Award (JIA) made under a new partnership between the two organizations has been awarded to Alexander N. Shoushtari, M.D. of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A Fellow in the medical oncology department, Dr. Shoushtari's research focuses on "Overcoming Resistance to MEK Inhibition in Advanced Uveal Melanoma." MEK inhibitors, including Selumetinib and FDA-approved Trametinib, have shown early promise in the systemic treatment of BRAF-mutated melanomas and Dr. Shoushtari's work is critical in better understanding the drug's potential efficacy for eye melanomas.  


The grant will be formally presented at the 2014 AACR Annual Meeting, held April 5-9, in San Diego, CA. The fellowship will provide Dr. Shoushtari with $50,000 over a one-year term, beginning on July 1, 2014.


Dr. Shoushtari received his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University, his M.D. from Rush Medical College in Chicago, and served his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago. Over the past ten years, he has conducted oncology research at the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the Rinker-Schaeffer Laboratory at the University of Chicago and last year received First Place in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Darwin Competition. He will conduct his research at Sloan Kettering in the medical oncology lab of Richard C. Carvajal, M.D., a top melanoma researcher and frequent speaker on the topic of uveal melanoma and MEK inhibition.


The American Association for Cancer Research ˗ Ocular Melanoma Foundation Fellowship represents a new partnership to provide a grant opportunity for promising researchers focused on ocular melanoma, a rare cancer of the eye that is diagnosed in approximately 2,000 adults per year in the United States. A joint effort to encourage and support a postdoctoral or clinical research fellow to conduct ocular/uveal melanoma research and to establish a successful career path in ophthalmology, ocular oncology, uveal melanoma cancer biology or a similar field, the fellowship seeks to act as vehicle for identifying and catalyzing the next generation of uveal melanoma innovators.


"We are delighted that the first award recipient is an oncology researcher of Dr. Shoushtari's talent who is investigating such a promising area of uveal melanoma treatment." said OMF Chairman Grant Allen. "We believe investing early in promising young researchers such as Dr. Shoushtari at MSKCC is key to identifying effective systemic treatments for OM and OMF looks forward to doing much more of this in the future." 


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About the Ocular Melanoma Foundation

The Ocular Melanoma Foundation (OMF) is the leading research and support organization focused on eye cancer. OMF was established in 2003 by Dr. Robert Allen, a renowned eye surgeon who was diagnosed three years earlier with ocular melanoma (OM), a rare eye cancer diagnosed in 2,000 American adults annually. Today, OMF is the #1 destination for ocular/uveal melanoma information online and a leading provider of patient education and support programs, including two firsts for the OM community: the Travel Assistance Grant (TAG) program and the Prosthetic Assistance Program (PAP) which provide financial assistance to patients for treatment-related travel and ocular prosthetics. Every year, OMF hosts the 'Eye Am Not Alone' patient retreat series which is now the largest gathering of OM patients and caregivers in the world. Now in its eleventh year, OMF has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars towards the fight against OM and works in close collaboration with groups such as the AACR to see a cure for eye cancer. Learn more at


About the American Association for Cancer Research

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the scientific partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit


About the 2014 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 

The 2014 AACR Annual Meeting will be held April 5-9 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. The OMF-AACR JIA Award will be presented at the Grant Awards and Dinner held Tuesday, April 8 from 6:30-9:30 pm in the North Tower of the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina Hotel 333 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.  

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